RSS Feed
Nov 22

The Incomplete Wolverine: 1976

Posted on Sunday, November 22, 2020 by Paul in Wolverine

Part 1: Origin to Origin II | Part 2: 1907 to 1914
Part 3: 1914 to 1939 | Part 4: World War II
Part 5: The postwar era | Part 6: Team X
Part 7: Post Team X | Part 8: Weapon X
Part 9: Department H | Part 10: The Silver Age

Last time, we entered Wolverine’s early years of publication. Now, let’s travel back to a strange time before Wolverine was a breakout character, and before the creators were all that bothered about him.

And for reasons I’ll explain, we kick off 1976 with an issue from 1977…

X-MEN vol 1 #106
“Dark Shroud of the Past!”

by Bill Mantlo, Bob Brown & Tom Sutton
August 1977

The X-Men fight psychic projections of the original team, subconsciously created by Professor X’s evil side during one of his nightmares. (These nightmares are a major subplot in the first couple of years of X-Men, but they don’t directly affect Wolverine. Basically, they’re the result of a botched psychic message to Professor X, foreshadowing the introduction of the Shi’ar.)

This is a fill-in issue, which explicitly takes place shortly after Moira arrives at the X-Men Mansion – even though it didn’t see print for over a year after that point. Although it appeared with a framing sequence by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum, Wolverine doesn’t appear in that bit, so we won’t be coming back to this issue again. There’s a bit of character work at the start: Cyclops accuses Wolverine of putting on a “mad killer” act, while Wolverine complains that Cyclops has been pushing the team too hard ever since Thunderbird died. Banshee chips in to agree, just so we know that the brattish Wolverine actually has a point for a change.

Technically, this is Wolverine’s first encounter with Professor X’s suppressed evil side, which will eventually show up again in X-Men vs Micronauts as the Entity. The story is so unimportant that the Classic X-Men reprint series just skipped it.

X-MEN vol 1 #97
“My Brother, My Enemy!”
by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum & Sam Grainger
February 1976

The X-Men accompany Professor X to the airport to see him off on a trip – except for Banshee, who’s hanging around with Moira, and Wolverine, who’s just antisocial. The plane is attacked by a new Erik the Red (who later turns out to be Shi’ar spy Davan Shakari) and his brainwashed henchmen, Havok and Lorna Dane (now Polaris). The X-Men drive them off. Wolverine and Banshee show up as reinforcements at the very end, with Wolverine whining at Cyclops for not shooting the escaping villains with his optic beam. Wolverine calls Cyclops “gutless”, Cyclops decks him, and Storm stops him retaliating.

Wolverine’s in this story for a grand total of two pages, but they sum up his position in the team at this point: he’s a macho idiot who yells stupid things at the sensible people in charge, and gets dressed down by any other character with an ounce of authority while the audience cheers. It’s 1976, and Wolverine isn’t cool yet.

“…And the Nightcrawler Came Prowling, Prowling”
by Len Wein, Ross Andru & Mike Esposito
October 1976

Nightcrawler teams up with Spider-Man and the Punisher to fight Jigsaw. (Bear in mind that in 1976 the Punisher was still using rubber bullets.) Wolverine has a brief cameo at the Mansion, having more pointless arguments. He’ll meet Spider-Man soon enough, but he won’t meet the Punisher until much, much later. This one comes out of publication order because the X-Men are about to embark on a lengthy storyline which doesn’t allow many obvious gaps for guest appearances.

The Marvel Chronology Project lists a flashback in X-Men Unlimited vol 1 #25 as going in here – it’s a brief scene of Logan and Kurt talking about religion while they fix the Blackbird, and the placement is probably arbitrary.

“Tag, Sucker”
by Chris Claremont & John Bolton
June 1987

Logan has spent the better part of a week wandering New York and getting to know the place. Sabretooth stalks him, taunts him, and kills an innocent girl. Wolverine finally realises who he’s dealing with, and changes into costume to fight him – only to get swiftly beaten and thrown into the sea. As he clambers onto the Staten Island Ferry, Wolverine thinks to himself that he’ll need to change and grow if he’s ever going to beat Sabretooth – and doubts whether he can.

Obviously, this is Claremont writing early Wolverine through the lens of a later interpretation of the character, and inserting his lifelong feud with Sabretooth – Sabretooth had debuted in Iron Fist by this point, but their rivalry wasn’t established until 1986.

The story accompanies a reprint of issue #102, but that’s in the middle of a lengthy storyline, and so this is the latest available gap for it. The MCP has it even earlier, but I’m not convinced that’s needed. The MCP also takes this fight as one of the near-death experiences which leads to Wolverine fighting Lazaer in flashback in Wolverine vol 3 #58, which seems fair enough.

“A Miracle a Few Blocks Down From 34th Street”
by Scott Lobdell, Dave Cockrum, Joe Rubinstein & Paty Cockrum

A throwaway Christmas story. The X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants – a makeshift roster consisting of the Blob, the Toad, Unus the Untouchable and Mastermind – compete to find a powerful mutant in New York. It turns out to be Santa Claus, who turns the Brotherhood into toys and then wipes the X-Men’s memory of the whole thing. (Look, it’s not like it’s the only Marvel story to canonise Santa Claus.) I suppose it’s meant to be a riff on the X-Men and the Brotherhood competing to recruit the Stranger in X-Men vol 1 #11? Anyway, it ends by leading directly into…

X-MEN vol 1 #98-100
“Merry Christmas, X-Men… the Sentinels Have Returned!” / “Deathstar, Rising!” / “Greater Love Hath No X-Man…”
by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, Sam Grainger & Frank Chiara
April to August 1976

The X-Men visit the Christmas celebrations in midtown New York. (Cover dates were miles out of synch with reality in those days, because they wanted issues to stay on the shelves for longer.) Also present are Moira MacTaggert, Jean Grey, and two supporting characters that Logan meets for the first time: Amanda Sefton and Betsy Wilford. Naturally, Logan is a surly grinch, who wanders off on his own, claiming he has “no use for Christmas”.

The Sentinels capture Wolverine, Banshee, Jean and Professor X, and take them to the space station base of Project Armageddon, under the command of Steven Lang. The rest of the X-Men mount a rescue mission using a space shuttle piloted by scientist Peter Corbeau. They fight Lang’s “X-Sentinels” – replicas of the original X-Men, which Wolverine exposes as robots. Lang and his men flee, and the X-Men have to escape the damaged base aboard Corbeau’s space shuttle during a dangerous solar flare. Jean volunteers to be the unshielded pilot, but more of that in a bit.

These are important issues for Wolverine, as Claremont and Cockrum are starting to retool him. It’s the first time we see Logan without his mask, and Dave Cockrum’s character design is wildly at odds with the childish brat that’s so far shown up in the stories. Cockrum makes Wolverine look much older than we’ve been led to expect, which immediately drags him away from the “toxic reckless youth” interpretation, and positions him more as “disturbingly strange”.

This is also the first time Wolverine uses his claws out of costume. Until now readers would have assumed that they were gimmicks in his gloves. Somewhat implausibly, Wolverine has apparently been keeping this secret from the other X-Men – it’s not really something that seems to bother him at any other point in his continuity, and quite how this never came up in their training sessions is difficult to understand. In the first few years, though, Wolverine is consistently written as being insanely secretive, and as fending off questions with improbable “you never asked” explanations. (They must have asked, and he must have ducked the question until he was in the mood to answer.)

Wolverine also uses his senses for the first time, to identify that the X-Sentinels are robots – but it’s played not so much as a superpower as something to do with his generally animalistic perspective on the world.

His attraction to Jean Grey also comes into play here. He obnoxiously cuts away more of her evening gown than necessary in order to make it practical in a fight. It’s specifically Jean that he instinctually recognises as a robot impostor, not any of the other founding members. And it’s only him and Cyclops who try to dissuade Jean from taking on the suicide mission – though Jean shows absolutely no sign of reciprocating his concern, dismissing him as an “obnoxious little upstart”. (Admittedly, he told her she was just trying to impress to her father figure Professor X, which probably didn’t go down well.)

So Wolverine’s starting to come into focus here. But at the same time, the Project run some tests which cast doubt on whether Wolverine is a mutant – reportedly, this was foreshadowing a plot where he’d turn out to be a creation of the High Evolutionary. Obviously that never came to fruition, but it shows that he was still a work in progress.

The expansion pack for this arc:

  • Marvels Epilogue re-tells the fight against the Sentinels in New York from the perspective of photojournalist Phil Sheldon. Logan has a brief exchange with him at the start.
  • Classic X-Men #6 is an expanded reprint of X-Men #98. Banshee and Wolverine get to put up a little bit more of a fight before getting captured. (Wolverine also uses his claws out of costume, which ought to spoil the reveal on the space station.)
  • Classic X-Men #7 is an expanded reprint of X-Men #99. There’s a bit more of Wolverine and the other prisoners being rescued.
  • Classic X-Men #8 is an expanded reprint of X-Men #100, continuing directly into a de facto back-up strip where Jean becomes Phoenix. Wolverine and the other X-Men have a brief cameo in the passenger compartment.
  • According to Uncanny X-Men: First Class #6, the solar flare in this story was caused by the Knights of Hykon battling on the sun. More of them in a future instalment.

X-MEN vol 1 #101 (part 1)
“Like a Phoenix, From the Ashes!”
by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum & Frank Chiaramonte
October 1976

The shuttle crashes in Jamaica Bay, and to everyone’s surprise Jean emerges transformed into Phoenix. Years down the line, this will get retconned into “the cosmic Phoenix Force takes Jean’s place, takes a part of her soul to use as a personality, and leaves the real Jean in an underwater cocoon to heal”. That’s not the original intent (which was presumably “what happens if somebody who has superpowers to start with re-enacts the origin story of the Fantastic Four”), so for the moment I’ll just keep calling her Jean.

Jean is taken to the hospital, where the X-Men keep vigil for several days. Completely failing to grasp the social dynamics, Logan goes to buy her flowers, and is surprised to find that everyone else is already waiting at the hospital – at which point he quietly bins the flowers before anyone sees them. By now he’s clearly smitten with Jean, and it becomes a clear subplot in the coming months. He’s also still claiming (in thought bubbles) that he’s never previously cared about anyone, let alone a girl. Part of the idea here is that Logan is in denial about his feelings, but even allowing for that, Claremont continues along this vein for a while before abruptly retconning it out – the idea that Logan had no meaningful friendships before joining the X-Men vanishes when James and Heather Hudson are introduced in a couple of years time.

But we’re in the early stages of a take on Wolverine that does stick: he views the X-Men as his new family, and that spurs him to try and overcome his animalistic urges and become a more rounded human. That’s basically his long-term arc during the first Claremont run.

Eventually the doctors announce that Jean’s going to be fine in the end… but hold on. Before we get to that, there are some stories that take place while the X-Men are hanging around at the hospital – one deliberately, and the rest as the result of an awkward continuity error.

“The Gift”
by Chris Claremont & John Bolton
May 1987

This is a Nightcrawler back-up strip, which takes place while the X-Men are holding their vigil at the hospital. Wolverine appears for a single panel in the waiting room.

“The Lords of Light and Darkness”
by Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema & Mike Esposito

This, on the other hand, is a blunder. The problem is that it features Phoenix as a member of the X-Men, but it also ties in to the subplot of Professor X’s nightmares. And that doesn’t work, because by the time Phoenix gets out of hospital and rejoins the team, the nightmare subplot is finished. The easy solution would have been to ignore the references to Xavier’s nightmares, but instead George Olshevsky’s 1980s X-Men Index opted to have Phoenix get better, rejoin the X-Men, and then relapse, all between pages of X-Men #101. It’s a ridiculous stretch but as we’ll see, it later got canonised by a continuity implant – so here we are.

The X-Men tag along with Professor X on a private flight to a scientific conference about mutation. The plane gets shot down by the Lords of Light and Darkness, one-off villains who gained powers in a nuclear test gone wrong, and want Phoenix to help them destroy the Earth so that they can ascend to the next plane of existence. The X-Men team up with Spider-Man (who was on the plane as a photographer) and eventually find a way to turn the Lords into energy beings without destroying the world, so everyone’s happy. Wolverine’s met a time-travelling Spider-Man before in his youth, but he doesn’t remember that, and in practical terms this is their first meeting.

Professor X telepathically summons the “X-Shuttle” to fly them home, and offers Spider-Man a lift, which leads to…

MARVEL TEAM-UP vol 1 #53
“Nightmare in New Mexico!”
by Bill Mantlo, John Byrne & Frank Giacoia
January 1977

This is of interest solely because it’s the first time John Byrne draws Wolverine. The X-Shuttle comes under attack by military drones, but poor nightmare-plagued Professor X is too exhausted for the X-Men to investigate, so Spider-Man and Banshee investigate on their own. Banshee catches up soon enough, while Spider-Man stays behind to have an adventure with the Hulk and Woodgod.

“A Case of Sunstroke”
by Barry Dutter & Vince Evans
June 1992

This obscure X-Men back-up strip accompanied a reprint of Marvel Team-Up #53. Still on the same eventful trip, the X-Men are now attacked by Sunstroke (Sol Brodstroke) and his Desert Dwellers (Cactus, Butte and Gila) – obscure West Coast Avengers villains who are looting passing aircraft to pass the time while they wait to help out with an alien invasion. The gimmick is that Sunstroke’s teammates all blend into the environment, so the X-Men think they’re just fighting one guy. During the fight, Phoenix passes out from the strain of dealing with her new powers, and the X-Men have to break off and take her back to the hospital – thus canonising Olshevsky’s continuity fix.

X-MEN vol 1 #101 (part 2) to #103
“Like A Phoenix, From the Ashes!” / “Who Will Stop the Juggernaut?” / The Fall of the Tower”
by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, Frank Chiaramonte & Sam Grainger
October 1976 to February 1977

Right, where were we? Jean is out of the woods, but she’s going to be in hospital for a while. So Professor X decides that he, Cyclops and Moira will stay behind, while the rest of the X-Men go on a “well deserved holiday”. Logan takes a bit of persuasion to leave Jean behind, but he backs down quickly enough – the idea is that he’s unwilling to show his feelings openly by pushing any harder than the rest of the team.

So the X-Men (minus Scott) go on holiday to Ireland. At Banshee’s newly-inherited ancestral castle, Cassidy Keep. the X-Men are attacked by Banshee’s vindictive cousin Black Tom Cassidy and his partner the Juggernaut (Cain Marko). (They’re working for Erik the Red, who wants them to capture the X-Men as bait to lure in Professor X.) The X-Men defeat Black Tom and Juggernaut with the aid of the leprechauns of Cassidy Keep, and if you’ve never seen the leprechauns of Cassidy Keep, they’re exactly as awful as you’re imagining. The villains fall into the sea and get swept away in a storm.

Wolverine doesn’t get much to do in this arc, which focusses more on Storm. He shows up to Sean’s formal dinner dressed as if he’s going to a line dance competition, and there’s a bit in issue #102 where he squabbles with Colossus about whether to keep fighting or try and help Storm with her panic attack. Even though he has a point about the villains being a more pressing problem, he’s so obnoxious as to leave no doubt where our sympathies are meant to be. At this point he’s a spiritual ancestor to Guy Gardner – a bozo who tells Storm that there’s nothing she can do to help, seconds before she picks the lock.

The story does have one thing that’s important for Wolverine – one of the leprechauns calls him Logan, the first time that name is used on panel. Wolverine doesn’t go by that name at this point, and it won’t be mentioned again until 1979.

Next time, Wolverine in 1977.

Edited on 5 December 2020 to add Marvels Epilogue, Marvel Holiday Special 1991, and a note on Logan’s name. Edited on 25 July 2021 to correct the entry for X-Men #97.

Bring on the comments

  1. SanityOrMadness says:

    Paul> The expansion pack for this arc [UXM #98-100]:

    Also Marvels Epilogue (2019). Nothing too drastic, but Wolverine does get to react to Phil Sheldon.

  2. SanityOrMadness says:

    Note to self: Don’t use strong tags in the comments here.

  3. Daibhid C says:

    Isn’t there a bit in the Cassidey Keep where Wolverine says he doesn’t believe in leprechauns and one of the leprechauns retorts that it doesn’t believe in talking wolverines? Which presumably was meant to tie into the High Evolutionary backstory, but now just comes across as a burn.

  4. Paul says:

    Good catch – I’ll add Marvels Epilogue when I get a chance. (I’m afraid that story’s from the period where comics are most likely to slip by me – i.e., published after the most recent update of the established chronologies, and before I started checking everything as it was added to Marvel Unlimited…)

  5. Zoomy says:

    Gotta love the earliest Wolverine appearances. It just feels so wrong if you go into them knowing any of the later stories…

    (He also shows up in last year’s Marvels Epilogue, asking Phil Sheldon for a light in the early stages of #98)

  6. Zoomy says:

    (sorry, should have refreshed the page after reading before posting a comment… 🙂 )

  7. Drew says:

    “ Marvel Holiday Special 1991 has an X-Men story which leads directly into the New York Christmas scene at the start of issue #98. Wolverine only appears right at the very end.”

    Not that it matters, but that’s not really true — he’s with the other X-Men through the entire battle with the Brotherhood. He spends most of it testing his claws on Unus’s forcefield, and saying he’s got all 12 days of Christmas to slice Unus into ribbons.

    (It also contains one of the all-time great Wolverine lines: “I have even less use for Christmas than I do for you, Colossus. Or as a greater man than me has said: bah humbug, bub.”)

  8. Chris V says:

    That scene where Lang’s scientists report that Logan isn’t showing up as truly a mutant could be reinterpreted with later revelations as being a hint about the Weapon Plus program’s experiments on him.
    The line is open-ended enough that the scientist didn’t explicitly say that Logan was definitely not a mutant.
    The tests could just be picking up how Logan has also been tampered with in an experiment, but that he is still a mutant.

  9. Paul says:

    Hmm, you seem to be right about Marvel Holiday Special 1991 – I’ll address that in the edit.

  10. Kian Ross says:

    Aren’t the leprechauns the first characters to refer to Wolverine as Logan? At least in terms of publishing order.

  11. Paul says:

    Yes, they are – though it doesn’t come up again for another few years. Worth mentioning, I agree.

  12. Taibak says:

    Not really relevant, but I always liked how Claremont wrote Banshee in the first few years of his run. Claremont was, presumably, working under the assumption that Banshee was the oldest and most experienced of the new recruits and someone who could provide guidance to the overbearing Professor X and the earnest, but comparatively inexperienced, Cyclops. I always thought that was a really good use of the character.

  13. Ben says:

    Now we’re getting into the really fascinating early stuff.

    Always cool to see how characters started and changed with time.

  14. Si says:

    Ah Marvels Epilogue, the secret origin of Wolverine’s Madripoor eyepatch disguise.

    By the way, I don’t think there was a period when Punisher habitually used rubber bullets. He reluctantly used them when he had a teamup with Spider-Man, on Spider-Man’s insistence, but he was killing people right at the start. I may well be wrong here, he’s not a character I ever had much time for, so please correct me if I’m wrong.

  15. Duskvstweak says:

    It’s been a while since I read it, but weren’t the leprechauns the first ones to call Wolverine “Logan”?

  16. Chris V says:

    Si-I’m pretty sure you are correct.
    It seems like a hand-waving thing on Marvel’s part anytime that they want Punisher to be treated more like a hero.
    Considering that Punisher’s earliest solo stories were in the B&W Marvel mags which didn’t adhere to the comic code, and that those stories involved realistic antagonists (political assassins and mobsters), I’m pretty sure that Punisher was not using rubber bullets.

    The interesting aspect of Punisher’s first solo story (by Conway) was that Punisher never killed anyone with a gun.
    He shoots an assassin, but just injured him.
    Then, at the end of the story, he causes an explosion to kill the enemies.

    Maybe Marvel (or Conway) had cold feet about Punisher simply gunning down his enemies in cold blood with that first story. He was shown to have no compunctions about killing though.

    Then, his second solo comic features him hunting down the gangsters who murdered his family.

    If there was any doubt about Punisher using live rounds, the cover of that comic makes the answer quite apparent.

    I’m not a fan of the character either, but I bought a back-issue of that Classic Punisher comic which reprints the first two Punisher solo stories because I’m a sucker for anything 1970s Marvel.

  17. Omar Karindu says:

    * I believe there are some Claremont interviews — maybe on the X-Men Chronicles interview comic — that confirm that Phoenix was originally meant to be “super-powers + FF origin = mega-super-powers.”

    * The Punisher was first shown killing people in Giant-Size Spider-Man #4, his third Spider-Man appearance. It’s of minor X-Men relevance because it’s also the first appearance of Moses Magnum, who turn up in the Claremont/Byrne era.

    * Regarding that odd Marvel Tales backup with the West Coast Avengers villains, it’s marginally less random than it appears because those villains worked for Dominus, the alien computer that was connected to the alien Lucifer — the guy who originally crippled Xavier — back in the Silver Age X-Men.

  18. Paul says:

    What the Punisher actually says in that issue is that he’s using rubber bullets because there are a lot of civilians around, which makes a certain degree of sense. Obviously, over the years he’s become much more confident in his aim.

  19. Karl_H says:

    On a side note, is there a good way to keep track of new replies on all of these posts? I’ve been just keeping a tab open for each post until the conversation really seems dead, but that’s awkward. I looked at an RSS plug-in, but all it did was keep track of the posts, not the replies.

  20. SanityOrMadness says:

    Also, since it’s tangential to Karl_H’s post, what happened to the “What are people saying?” thing down in the bottom right that broke a month or so back?

    (I mean, obviously things haven’t been changed in a while, given the lastfm thing, but something must have happened.)

  21. SanityOrMadness says:

    Putting this in a separate post in case the link triggers the spam filter…

    @Karl_H, there *are* RSS feeds for the comments. Here’s the one for this post:

    (Change post number as appropriate. It’s in the URL)

  22. Chris V says:

    I always thought the original intent with the Phoenix is that this was always Jean’s latent potential with her powers.
    She had never had to force herself to stretch her powers to their limits before that moment.
    I had never heard the idea that it was as a result of the cosmic rays.

    Either way, the idea of the Phoenix Force as a cosmic entity was a ret-con.

    I think Byrne always saw the Phoenix as a cosmic force possessing Jean, while Claremont saw the Phoenix as the same as Jean.
    I seem to recall an interview where Byrne was the one arguing with Shooter that the end of the Dark Phoenix Saga was fine because Jean had been possessed by an entity, so it wasn’t Jean who destroyed that world.
    Claremont admitted to Shooter that he didn’t necessarily agree with Byrne’s opinion about the Phoenix, which led Shooter to force the change to the ending of Dark Phoenix.

  23. Dave says:

    “…this was foreshadowing a plot where he’d turn out to be a creation of the High Evolutionary. Obviously that never came to fruition, but it shows that he was still a work in progress.”

    It can still come to fruition, if the MCU decide Wolverine isn’t a mutant. Comics continuity be damned!

  24. Karl_H says:

    SanityOrMadness: Thank you! It was just a matter of figuring out how to tell the RSS plug-in to look for the feeds. Now I’m off to close some tabs.

  25. Nu-D says:

    Re: original intent for Phoenix, from Secrets Behind the X-Men::

    While trying to save the X-Men from death, Jean Grey was exposed to cosmic rays in X-Men #100, 1976. “(Writer Chris Claremont) told me to play off the origin of the Fantastic Four with the cosmic rays and that whole “TAGATAGATAGA” sound effect,” Cockrum recalled.

    Then X-Men #101 started with Jean Grey having become Phoenix. The closer circumstances surrounding the rebirth were revealed in X-Men #125 in 1979: “Her body was consumed by the intense radiation. But her mind refused to die. Driven by her love for Scott Summers, she achieved her full potential as a psi becoming, briefly, an entity of pure thought before finally reforming as Phoenix.”

    “Phoenix is actually Marvel Girl at her ultimate extent,” Chris Claremont explained to The Comics Journal. “Phoenix in X-Men #108 (1977), when she saved the universe, was Jean Grey achieving her fullest potential as an entity.”

    “Our intent was to create an X-Men analog, if you will, to Thor someone who was essentially the first female cosmic hero,” Claremont revealed in Phoenix: The Untold Story. “We thought at the time that we could integrate her into the book as well as Thor had been integrated into the Avengers. The problem with that is that it grew out of the synthesis between Dave and me. The fact that we had, in a sense, created her gave me a degree of involvement that (artist John Byrne) didn’t have, coming in seven issues later.”

    “Actually, when we introduced Phoenix I don’t think we intended for her to keep super cosmic powers, because the rest of the group becomes superfluous then,” Cockrum told The X-Men Companion. “Chris had said something about using the power to save the universe in X-Men #108 (in 1977), but that wiped it to such a degree that it reduced her powers. And after that, theoretically, she was not supposed to be that super-cosmic person.”

    “So anyway, we were told, Dave and I, that Phoenix could not be cosmic,” Claremont said in The Comics Journal. “And when the editor passes down an edict, you’re stuck with it. We had to cut her back. So we decided to cut her down to roughly where Storm is, which is fine. Now I had to think of a rationale.”

    “The potential to become Phoenix is still within Jean. But without the necessary increase in her awareness, in her perception. If her consciousness, her soul, whatever, is not enlightened if her consciousness is not cosmic, then she can’t handle the power. It’s like Doctor Strange could not become the Sorcerer Supreme until he had achieved a certain psychic and emotional balance, or awareness. Neither can Jean. She’ll burn herself out, she’ll be warped, twisted, turned into an evil person. Ergo, what happened was her mind shut her down, as a safety mechanism. To prevent her from hurting herself, it just dropped a wall down.”

  26. Nu-D says:

    As for Wolverine’s original design:

    “As far as his origin goes, originally we had intended to have him be a mutated wolverine,” artist Dave Cockrum revealed in The X-Men Companion.

    “There were remarks in the storyline at one point where somebody was assessing Wolverine and saying, “I’m not even sure if he’s human,” or something like that (in X-Men #98, 1976), which would have led up to it,” Cockrum added in Wizard Tribute To Wolverine.

    “The first origin that was concocted, was that he was actually a mutant wolverine, boosted up to human form by the High Evolutionary,” subsequent artist John Byrne revealed in The Comics Journal #57. “Okay, that works except that (writer) Archie (Goodwin) did a similar number in the first Spider-Woman story. And no matter how things have changed in that strip since, the idea has been done before so we dropped it.”

    Cockrum revealed in Wizard Tribute To Wolverine that the idea also met with editorial resistance: “Stan Lee found the concept disgusting.”

    “The claws were retractable, but into the gloves,” Wein noted in Back Issue #4. “I guess it was Dave and (subsequent writer) Chris Claremont’s idea to make them part of his body.”

    “Dave said Len thought the claws were in the gloves and he and I both agreed, “Why?” If they’re in the gloves, then anybody could wear the gloves,” Claremont told Back Issue #4. “We needed something that made him a mutant, something that made him unique. The claws were obviously artificial, and if the claws were part of the glove, what made him a mutant? The reductium of the equation was what makes him a mutant is the healing factor. But if he has a healing factor, what about the claws? Well, let us make the claws part of him. The healing factor enables him to survive with the claws. Dave and I thought, “This is cool, we’ll run with it.”

    “Len thought Wolverine was 19 years old,” Claremont told Back Issue #4. “Dave is the one that came up with the look, the hairline. (…) The way Dave drew him, he looked older. As I wrote him more and more, he felt older.”

    “It just seemed in my mind to fit the character, the notion that he’s been around a long time,” John Byrne noted in Back Issue #4. “I got to thinking he looks pretty rough and tumble for a guy who has a healing factor. Maybe he’s been around a long time.”

    “The over a century old was something that was decided later on,” Claremont added in Back Issue #4. “You gradually build the structure of the character.”

    The first unresolved X-Men plot arose in X-Men #103, 1977. At Cassidy Keep in Ireland, a leprechaun that knew his real name was Logan surprised Wolverine. Wolverine asked how the leprechaun knew his hitherto unrevealed name, but the question remained unanswered.

    Claremont told Back Issue #4 that the name Logan was inspired by Mount Logan, a mountain in Canada. “The idea was the tallest mountain being the name of the shortest character.”

  27. Chris V says:

    When will the untold story of Logan’s close past adventures with the leprechauns finally be told?
    I can’t wait for that twelve-part maxiseries.

    Maybe the big reveal will be that Wolverine is really part leprechaun, hence explaining why he’s not tall. The truth must be told.

    They’re leprechauns. They are magic. It doesn’t need any greater explanation.

  28. Allan M says:

    I think I have PTSD from these annotations, because I was genuinely dreading reading about how the leprechauns were somehow tied into Romulus’ grand conspiracy.

  29. Omar Karindu says:

    Clearly Romulus financed his schemes by stealing their pots of gold.

  30. Thom H. says:

    I love how part of Wolverine’s evolution as a character was: He’s 19 years old! No, he’s 40! No, he’s 150.

  31. Luis Dantas says:

    So that is why Phoenix was having oscillation of power levels since her first fight against Magneto…

    The idea that a mutant enhanced by cosmic rays would somehow be “like Thor” is odd to me, but I guess I should not be surprised that Claremont has his own cosmology and writes accordingly.

    That is probably unavoidable, but I still find some of it odd. Such as when during the prelude to the Dark Phoenix saga Jean and Scott both interpreted her visions of another time as peeks into an “ancestor’s life”. Quite an exotic interpretation for one person to have, let alone two.

  32. Dave says:

    Phoenix simply being Jean’s full potential works better with how she just regains the power in Morrison’s story (and with the X2 movie). It makes the resurrections more out there, though.

  33. SanityOrMadness says:

    @Dave But makes Rachel pretty much impossible.

  34. […] of Wolverine, House to Astonish’s journey back into his history continues, and the early days of the character, before he’d appeared in every title Marvel had to offer and died and come back and died and come […]

  35. Dave says:

    Rachel’s impossible in more than one way, it seems. But if you mean being the next Phoenix host, then I agree. I almost added that the moment Claremont made it impossible for Phoenix to be purely Jean was when Rachel became Phoenix II.

  36. Nu-D says:

    I don’t see the contradiction between CC’s original intent for Jean/Phoenix, and the idea of a separate Phoenix Force. Jean’s “ultimate potential” was to have access to and be a host for the Phoenix Force. That was her power. It wasn’t TP/TK, it was being a host. Initially, she could only tap it a little bit, but after the cos ic storm, her ability to tap it was expanded.

    Rachel was also born with the same power.

  37. Dave says:

    Don’t some of the other Phoenix hosts put a hole in that theory?

  38. Thom H. says:

    Unless the Phoenix Force is somehow the origination of all mutant powers. Which actually kind of fits with Morrison’s conception of it.

    It gets more iffy when you expand the Phoenix’s hosts to include Captain America, Black Panther, and Thor, as in the current Avengers arc.

  39. Karl_H says:

    No the origination of all mutant powers was the death of a sick celestial 4 billion years ago, long before the Phoenix Force was Odin’s smokin’ girlfriend who looked just like Jean Grey, man, Avengers, I don’t even know you any more.

  40. Nu-D says:

    No, the other hosts don’t contradict that reading, any more than Polaris proves Magneto can’t harness the magnetic force.

    Jean:Phoenix Force::Magneto:magnetism.

    Prior to the cosmic storm, Jean’s access was weak, her powers limited. After the storm, her power mutated and she was able to access the PF to a larger degree. That was the “ultimate expression” of a power she already had.

    That’s how I always read it, anyhow. I read these stories principally in the Classic X-Men reprints, so CC was already filling later events in. I’ve never been entirely clear on what was original, and what was not. So I conceded this reading is probably not “original.” But I think it’s quite coherent up even through Morrison’s run.

  41. Nu-D says:

    It doesn’t sit well with non-mutants hosting the PF, I admit. But it doesn’t mean all mutation comes from the PF, any more than Magneto’s power means all mutation comes from magnetism.

    Of course, the PF was retconned into having a degree of will, so it can choose a host in a way magnetism cannot. So I suppose it can choose to be in Cap or BP, even if their powers don’t give them special access and control over the PF.

    But still, if I had been editor, I would have kept the PF tightly affixed to mutant psychics. Not all of them—some get psychic powers from elsewhere. But in some mutants what manifests as TP/TK is actually tapping into the PF.

  42. Dave says:

    “No, the other hosts don’t contradict that reading, any more than Polaris proves Magneto can’t harness the magnetic force.”

    Not following this reasoning at all. Unless it’s backwards. The other hosts show that you don’t need Jean’s ‘power’ of having access to and being a host for Phoenix Force. Polaris and Magneto DO have the same power, multiple Phoenix hosts do not.

  43. Thom H. says:

    Let’s say Jean’s power is to funnel Phoenix energy, and it shows up in her as relatively weak TP/TK until she’s able to fully access it after being bombarded by cosmic rays.

    Then why not explain Cyclops’ optic blasts the same way? His eyes are a funnel for limited amounts of Phoenix energy until some event expands his access to it.

    I’m not saying this is canon or even a great explanation. Just saying that it’s possible to explain other mutant hosts for the Phoenix Force by using the same logic that has been used for Jean.

    Honestly, you could expand it to non-mutant characters as well, but then the Phoenix Force becomes the source of all super powers in the Marvel universe. And that stretches the idea kind of thin.

  44. Nu-D says:

    What Thom said.

    Again, I’m just talking about my reading of CC’s intent circa. 1988-90, when he was filling in the Classic X-Men stories, post-Inferno, and around the time of the Judgment War story in X-Factor. At that time, only Jean and Rachel (and to a lesser extend Maddie) had been hosts. I’m not saying that the idea still maps to all of the stories since then.

    (I guess there was an Excalibur character called Feron who was a host? Not sure exactly when that happened, or whether it fit with CC’s presentation of the PF/Jean relationship.)

    I don’t have a catalog of all of the uses of Phoenix in the years after CC. A quick scan of the Marvel Chronology Project doesn’t show much opportunity for the PF to show up outside of Jean and Rachel (and Feron?) up through Morrison’s run. I think CC’s take still worked pretty well.

    It gets increasingly unsatisfactory as an explanation after GM’s run, when, as folks have noted, Cyclops, Colussus, Magik and Namor have hosted the PF, among others. If there were a few one-off appearances, they’re easily handwaved away. In normal people, the relation to the PF is one-way; it can come to you. In people with Jean’s power, the relation is two ways; she can call on it, and she has greater access and control. But it’s become so common for PF to possess every Jean, Rick and Gerry, that it’s lost it’s focus and drifted far from what I think CC had in mind.

  45. Taibak says:

    @Nu-D: Feron is from Alan Davis’s run. Basically, thousands of years ago the original Feron made contact with the Phoenix Force through some kind of ritual. He eventually traveled to Earth 616 along with his mentor, Necrom, and his fellow student, Merlyn to try to summon the Phoenix Force. When it arrived and tried to bond with Feron, Necrom double-crossed them, attacked Feron, and tried to claim the Phoenix Force for himself. Feron fought back and wounded Necrom, who nevertheless claimed a piece of the Phoenix Force for himself. The Phoenix Force fled into space.

    Feron would go on to sire a line of sorcerers who would spend their lives training and waiting for the day when the Phoenix Force returned. Apparently, they must have been asleep when Jean and Rachel became host so they were unaware that the Phoenix Force had been back for a while.

    Either way, the current Feron is a teenager who was raised in a monastery in Ireland. The idea was that he would become the host of the Phoenix the instant his bare feet touched the ground. Suffice to say, that didn’t happen and he wound up annoying Excalibur while Rachel fought Necrom. He sort of hung around Braddock Manor for a while before being unceremoniously written out once Alan Davis left the book.

  46. Nu-D says:

    Thanks Taibak. I’ve never been a fan of Davis as a writer.

    Anyhow, that all still fits with CC’s interpretation. Just because Magneto has the power of magnetism doesn’t mean nobody can make a magnet. Feron uses magic to harness the PF, while Jean/Rachel access it through their mutant powers.

  47. Taibak says:

    No prob. FWIW, Davis can be a good writer when he has the freedom to do what he wants, but he does tend to fall in love with his pet characters. With his Excalibur run, at least, Cerise was fine, but Kylun didn’t really add much and the Widget redesign was ill conceived while Feron and Micromax were just irritating.

  48. Taibak says:

    But that’s just my opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary.

  49. Rob says:

    Just catching up to this point in my X-Men re-read right now.

    Wolverine’s appearance at the end of issue #97 isn’t a botch. He and Banshee arrive on the scene on the previous page, prompting Erik the Red to leave because he sees the reinforcements have arrived.

  50. […] XPart 7: Post Team X | Part 8: Weapon XPart 9: Department H | Part 10: The Silver Age1974-1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | […]

Leave a Reply